By Linh Bui

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Pushing for change.  In the United States, one person dies every 19 minutes from a prescription drug overdose.

Linh Bui reports the government wants to crack down on popular painkillers.

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The FDA says it has become increasingly concerned about the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs.

The Food and Drug Administration wants tighter restrictions on some of the most commonly prescribed narcotic painkillers.

The agency is proposing to reclassify several drugs that contain hydrocodone, including Vicodin, saying prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the United States.

“The availability of substances that can be misused is clearly a component of increasing drug abuse. So if you reduce the availability, there’s some correlation to less trouble, overdoses and bad outcomes,” said Bernard McBride, CEO of Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore.

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Under the proposed rules, physicians would only give out 90-day supplies at a time, patients could not get a refill without first visiting a doctor, and patients would need a written prescription from a doctor.

“Restricting the illegal use of prescription drugs is a good thing, as long as it doesn’t–and that’s the challenge—interfere with getting those drugs to the people who use them,” McBride said.

Hydrocodone is the most prescribed drug in the country.

New rules can make sure it’s used correctly.

The FDA said it hopes the changes will result in a larger conversation about pain management between patients and doctors.

The FDA will submit the proposal by early December.

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Linh Bui